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Kais Saied
قيس سعيد
President Kais Saïed cropped.jpg
Saied in 2019
President of Tunisia
Assumed office
23 October 2019
Prime Minister
Preceded by Mohamed Ennaceur (acting)
Personal details
Born (1958-02-22) 22 February 1958 (age 65)
Tunis, Tunisia
Nationality Tunisian
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Ichraf Chebil
Children 3
Alma mater University of Tunis
International Institute of Humanitarian Law
Profession Jurist, lecturer

Kais Saied (Arabic: قَيس سَعيد; born 22 February 1958) is a Tunisian politician, jurist, and retired law professor currently serving as the 8th President of Tunisia since October 2019. He was president of the Tunisian Association of Constitutional Law from 1995 to 2019.

Having worked in various legal and academic roles since the 1980s, Saied joined the 2019 presidential election as an independent social conservative supported by Ennahda and others across the political spectrum. Running on a populist platform with little campaigning, Saied sought to appeal to younger voters, pledged to combat corruption and supported improving the electoral system. He won the second round of the election with 72.71% of the vote, defeating Nabil Karoui, and was sworn in as president on 23 October 2019.

In January 2021, protests began against Saied's government in response to alleged police brutality, economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic. On 25 July 2021, Saied suspended the parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, which triggered an ongoing political crisis involving leading figures from Ennahda.

Early life

Kais Saied is the son of Moncef Saied and Zakia Bellagha from Béni Khiar (Cap Bon). According to Saied, his late father protected the young Tunisian-born mixed Jewish-Berber Muslim Gisèle Halimi from the Nazis. His mother, although educated, is a housewife. His family is of rather modest origin but intellectual and a member of the middle class. His paternal uncle, Hicham Saïed, was the first pediatric surgeon in Tunisia, known for having separated two conjoined twins in the 1970s. Kaïs Saïed completed his secondary studies at Sadiki College.

Professional career

Kaïs Saïed 2013
Saied in 2013.

A jurist by formation, he is a specialist in constitutional law, and secretary-general of the Tunisian Association of Constitutional Law between 1990 and 1995 then vice-president of the association since 1995.

Director of the public law department at the University of Sousse between 1994 and 1999, then at the Faculty of Juridical, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis of the University of Carthage from 1999 to 2018, he was a member of the group of experts of the General Secretariat of the Arab League between 1989 and 1990, expert at the Arab Institute for Human Rights from 1993 to 1995 and member of the committee of experts responsible for revising the draft Tunisian Constitution in 2014. He was also a member of the scientific council of several commissions academics.

While a visiting professor at several Arab universities, in 2013 he refused to be part of the commission of experts whose mission was to find a legal solution to the problem of the Independent High Authority for Elections. He retired in 2018.

President of Tunisia

Saied was sworn in as Tunisia's president on 23 October 2019. He is the first president born after the country gained independence from France in 1956.

Transition and investiture

Kaïs Saïd 2
Kaïs Saïd at Carthage (23 October 2019).

The results of the presidential election were proclaimed identically by the Independent High Authority for Elections on 17 October. On the same day, Kaïs Saïed chose his brother Naoufel, also a professor of constitutional law, to appoint the advisers and members of the presidential cabinet. The office of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People met on 18 October and fixed the oath on 23 October. This date corresponds to the maximum duration of the presidential interim of 90 days.

On 23 October, at the Presidential Palace of Carthage, after taking his oath before the outgoing Assembly, during which he promises to fight against terrorism and its causes, as well as to guarantee the gains of Tunisian women, while strengthening his economic and social rights, he sees the interim president, Mohamed Ennaceur, transferring presidential powers to him.

First steps

From a practical point of view, he refused to stay at the presidential palace of Carthage, preferring his villa in Mnihla, located in the governorate of Ariana.

On 30 October, he appointed diplomat Tarek Bettaïeb as head of the presidential cabinet, General Mohamed Salah Hamdi as national security adviser, while Tarek Hannachi heads the protocol. Abderraouf Bettaïeb is Minister-Advisor to the President of the Republic, Rachida Ennaifer in charge of communication, while Nadia Akacha is responsible for legal affairs.

Suspension of Parliament on 25 July 2021 and constitutional reform

Mattarella Saied 2021
Saied with Italian president Sergio Mattarella at Quirinal Palace (June 2021).

On 25 July 2021, in light of violent demonstrations against the government demanding the improvement of basic services and amid a growing COVID-19 outbreak, Saied suspended parliament for thirty days and relieved the prime minister Hichem Mechichi from his duties, waiving the immunity of the parliament members and ordering the military to close the parliament house. Saied's actions, which included relieving the prime minister of his duties, assuming the executive authority, suspending the Parliament and closing the offices of some foreign news agencies, appeared to have been clear signs of a coup, as they disregard Article 80 of the Tunisian constitution, which states that before raising an emergency state, the president must consult his prime minister and the head of the Parliament, and even then, the Parliament cannot be suspended. There is currently no constitutional court in Tunisia to offer jurisdiction in his interpretation of the constitution.

On 24 August 2021, Saied extended the suspension of parliament, although the constitution states the parliament can only be suspended for a month, raising concerns in some quarters about the future of democracy in the country.

On 22 September, Saied announced that he will rule by decree and ignore parts of the constitution. Saied named Najla Bouden as Prime Minister on 29 September 2021. Protests against his consolidation of power continued in October 2021.

On 13 December 2021, Saied extended the suspension of the parliament until a new election takes place, and announced a nationwide public consultation that would take place from 1 January until 20 March 2022 to gather suggestions for constitutional and other reforms after which Saied would appoint a committee of experts to draft a new constitution, to be ready by June ahead of the referendum that will take place on 25 July 2022. He said that new parliamentary elections will be held on 17 December 2022, after going through the referendum and preparing a new electoral system.

On 5 January 2022, the Tunisian judiciary referred 19 predominantly high-ranking politicians to court for "electoral violations" allegedly committed during the 2019 presidential elections. Among the 19 were four former prime ministers, Youssef Chahed, Elyes Fakhfakh, Mehdi Jomaa and Hamadi Jebali, as well as former president Moncef Marzouki, and the head of the Ennahda party movement, Rachid Ghannouchi.

In February 2022, Saied dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, the body hitherto charged with judicial independence.

According to the country's justice minister, the Tunisian President has indicated that rather than eliminating the Supreme Judicial Council, he will restructure it. This comes days after the country's decision to disband the highest judicial body drew international condemnation.

As a result of the President's decisions, more than two hundred judges and attorneys in black robes demonstrated outside the main court in Tunisia's capital on Thursday, 10 February 2022.

On Sunday, 13 February 2022, Saied issued a proclamation appointing a temporary Supreme Judiciary Council.

A constitutional referendum was scheduled for 25 July 2022. After the referendum results indicated that 90% of voters supported Saied, he declared victory and promised that Tunisia will enter the new phase after he got the unlimited power.

Personal life

Kais Saied is married to the judge Ichraf Chebil, whom he met when she was a law student in Sousse. He is the father of three children (two daughters and a son: Sarah, Mouna and Amrou).


National honours

Ribbon bar Honour
Order of Independence v. 1959 (Tunisia) - ribbon bar Grand Master & Grand Collar of the Order of Independence
Order of the Republic (Tunisia) - ribbon bar Grand Master & Grand Collar of the Order of the Republic
TN Order Merit Rib Grand Master & Grand Collar of the National Order of Merit of Tunisia

Foreign honors

Ribbon bar Country Honour
National Order of Merit - Athir v.1 (Algeria) - ribbon bar.gif  Algeria Collar (Athir Class) of the National Order of Merit (2 February 2020)
Grand Collar of the Order of the State of Palestine ribbon.svg  Palestine Grand Collar of the State of Palestine (8 December 2021)

Other Honors

  • 2021 : Honorary degree from Sapienza University of Rome
  • 2021 : Arab League' Honor Plaque
  • 2022 : Honorary Gold Medal of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers


After assuming the presidency, Kais Saied garnered significant media attention for his handwritten official letters in fine Maghrebi script.

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